Make feedback more impactful by using individual motivator language

Use the right language to speak to the individual

Using the right hook to bait the fish for more impactful feedback.

Understanding that we all look at the world via a different lens, is very important when giving feedback. When we change our approach to match someone else’s preferences, we have a significantly better chance of connecting and achieving our communication goals! To illustrate this, let’s take an example of giving negative/constructive feedback. Please see my earlier posts on giving negative and positive feedback and how we can turn feedback into a positive learning experience.


Example of feedback using an individual approach

Giving individual feedback

The Illustration above outlines 4 thinking attributes (pie chart), and 3 behaviour attributes (horizontal arrows). If we just work with the thinking attributes, we can see how we can use an approach that matches the thinking behaviour of the recipient.

Behaviour – I noticed that you didn’t check in with me before you made the report live in the system.

Impact – The report did not highlight the right scenario and it had to be repeated. Use one of the following responses to make the impact more meaningful for the individual:

  • Analytical: Our productively was impacted and our weekly average was lowered to 72%.
  • Social: The team had to catch up and this impacted everyone, both co-workers, customers and management.
  • Conceptual: This will impact your future career development, and how we move forward.
  • Structural: Here is clear outline of how it impacted the results with timelines

Resolution/Coaching Moment – Use coaching to help them figure out what to do next: Again use of the following responses to make the coaching more meaningful for the individual:

  • Analytical: What could you do next time to improve our productivity ratio? We want the numbers to come out at 85%.
  • Social: How can I support you in this? I understand that sometimes it can be difficult to get these things right. What can you do to next time to have a better outcome for the whole team?
  • Conceptual: How can you move forward for the future, so that our reports align with the big picture of our organization? Let’s brainstorm!
  • Structural: What type of steps would need to be implemented to ensure the process works well next time?

Try it out yourself

Select the thinking attribute that best represents how your think. Now imagine that your boss is giving you feedback.  He tells you the impact, and asks a coaching question, both based on the opposite thinking attribute. For example, if you selected Analytical to represent yourself, how would you respond if you received Social type feedback?  Do you think there could have been a better outcome if he had chosen feedback based on your Analytical thinking preference?

Tie in motivators to make feedback 
more meaningful and impactful 

Use the right language to speak to the individualBehavioural Profiling Tools

Tools such as Emergenetics, illustrated below or Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), allow for behaviour profiling. They give you as the leader, a better understanding of what motivates individuals. They also provide team members with a common vocabulary for describing their differences and similarities. Both of these tools are valid and reliable. Off course, we must always remember the importance of  introducing these tools property and using them in a positive way.

Emergenetics is based on Neuroscience and is a strength based tool. It also comes with a smartphone App, which you can use where and when you need. Click here for more information on the benefits of using Emergenetics.

The App, contains various aids that allow you to better communicate, for example, give feedback, do a presentation or have a meeting with a selected person or group.

Feedback geared to the individual



Nicola McCrabbe, is a Leadership Coach, Workshop Facilitator and Agile Meet-up group co-organizer.

She works with newly appointed and established leaders who want to “up their game” and bring their teams to the next level. She believes that happy, engaged employees make for successful organizations.